NHL Betting Picks For Islanders vs. Flyers & Golden Knights vs. Canucks (Saturday, Aug. 29)

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Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Tuch

  • Looking for a few NHL bets from Saturday's slate? Our experts break down their favorites for Islanders-Flyers and Golden Knights-Canucks.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs continue with three games on Saturday, starting with Game 4 between the Bruins and Lightning at 12 p.m. ET, then wrapping with Game 3 between the Golden Knights and Canucks at 9:45 p.m. ET.

Here are our three favorite bets for Saturday’s NHL action.

Michael Leboff: Islanders Series Moneyline (-106)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 7 p.m. ET

I’m a little bit surprised that the Islanders are an underdog to win this series. I get that the Flyers are technically the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and had a better regular season than the Islanders, but it’s pretty clear after 11 games in the Bubble that the Islanders have improved, while the Flyers have been largely mediocre outside of their 3-0 run during the round robin.

The Isles are only allowing 1.13 goals against on 1.79 expected goals per hour at 5-on-5 in the playoffs. Those numbers are good enough for first and second, respectively, in the postseason.

It’s not like the Isles are just shelling up and shooting hot, either. They are generating 2.46 expected goals for per hour and carry a 57.8% expected goals rate into Game 3. It’s been a genuinely good run of form for New York.

The Flyers took advantage of some shady goaltending from Semyon Varlamov in Game 2, but they still struggled for large chunks of the game. If it wasn’t for a couple of soft goals, the Isles would be looking for a 3-0 series lead tonight.

Good fortune and great goaltending played a huge part in Philadelphia’s first-round win over Montreal and it doesn’t look like the Flyers have figured things out just yet.

I trust the Islanders to get the job done over the next five games.

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Sam Hitchcock: Vegas Golden Knights -1.5 Goals (+128)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 9:45 p.m. ET

After the Golden Knights shattered the Canucks 5-0 in Game 1, there were pangs of concern that this would be the only playoff series lacking suspense. But in Game 2, the Canucks came roaring back, putting up five goals and showcasing an explosion of offense from forward Tyler Toffoli, who hadn’t played since Aug. 2.

Still, it would be a mistake to view these teams as being on equal footing, which is why I’m advocating for the +130 puck line on the Golden Knights.

Through two games, Vegas has outshot Vancouver 64 to 38 at 5-on-5. In both games, Vegas won the expected goals battle by a healthy margin. But the biggest takeaway from Game 2 for the Golden Knights is that the Canucks’ win was entirely fueled by their top-six forwards. One has to wonder how Vegas coach Peter DeBoer will respond in Game 3.

Usually DeBoer doesn’t try to seek out forward line matchups, but Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault-Paul Stastny-Reilly Smith line struggled against that of Elias Pettersson, Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. Marchessault and Smith excelled in Game 1, but that was before Toffoli returned to Vancouver’s lineup.

Game 3 should result in a multi-goal Golden Knights victory for a couple key reasons.

The Canucks have no answer for the Max Pacioretty-William Karlsson-Mark Stone trio. It has generated 22 shots at 5-on-5 through two contests and posted an expected goals of 66.18% and 68.83%.

Vancouver coach Travis Green has tried his two-top defensive pairings, as well as two-way center Bo Horvat, against the Karlsson line to no avail.

Although Vegas gave up five goals in Game 2, its defensive coverage is generally strong. Game 2 saw aberrational events like multiple costly breakdowns by the Golden Knights in their own end. It’s unlikely this will happen again.

In the postseason, only the Tampa Bay Lightning have a lower expected goals against per 60 minutes than Vegas. During the regular season, Vegas finished eighth in that metric.

The Golden Knights seem to be assured of winning the 5-on-5 shots count. With the Karlsson line continuing to dominate and the team tightening up defensively, Vegas at +130 on the puck line offers value.

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Pete Truszkowski: Vancouver-Vegas 1st Period Over 1.5 (-137)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 9:45 p.m. ET

A typical NHL game has an Over/Under between 5 and 6.5 goals. The First-Period Total, however, almost always remain static at 1.5 goals. Simple logic will tell you that on a game with a higher total, such as this one, the first period has a higher chance of going over 1.5 goals.

Vegas has the highest expected goals per 60 minutes of teams remaining in these playoffs. Vancouver has the highest expected goals allowed per 60 of remaining teams. The same trend applies to high-danger chances for and high-danger chances against.

Basically, Vegas has the puck a lot and does a great job generating scoring chances. Vancouver doesn’t have the puck very much and struggles to limit quality opportunities. Vancouver does have a great collection of high-end talent, led by Elias Pettersson.

Things that happened during the regular season might not hold as much water considering the gap in time, but these two teams were top-five in terms of cashing first period overs. Vegas went over 1.5 goals in the first period in 45 -of-70 (64.3%) games — no team hit at a higher clip. Vancouver wasn’t too shabby, either, going over 1.5 in 40-of-68 (58.8%) games.

I would bet over 1.5 goals in the first period at any price under -140.

[Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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